Gratitude Journals

I shared a few years ago that I sometimes struggle with gratefulness. I sometimes choose to look at what I don’t have or can’t do, rather than at the hundred other blessings that are right in front of me.

It’s definitely not a new idea that gratefulness takes practice, and that noticing good things in your life leads to greater peace and joy.

So this year, I am writing a gratefulness journal. And I think you should join me! #gratefulNovember

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Jake’s Birthday Costume Party

How in the world did my son turn 5? It’s not like the days or years have felt short; I honestly can’t even remember (because it seems so long ago) what my life was before this kid made me a mom. It’s just that I remember so clearly thinking he would be small forever. That his little hands and his little feet would always be doll-size. That 2-year-olds seemed as big as monsters.

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Savored Grace

I am pleased to announce that Smells Like Brownies is moving to a new home! (In fact, it has already moved!)

Welcome to Savored Grace.

JOHN1.16

When I concluded that the name Smells Like Brownies had run its course, I almost simultaneously gulped with fear.

Do you know how hard it is to name a blog?

It’s really hard.

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Brie and Onion Jam Veggie Burgers

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about food. But during that long break, this is one of the meals I have made over and over again. I make it for guests, I make it just for me. I made it once with Sarah of Well Dined.

This burger is piled high with delicious flavors, from the brie and onion jam, to a rich truffle aioli, a tight handful of spinach, and the creamy coolness of avocado. I love a good, fancy burger. I love that when I make burgers, I can customize them for each person at my table (and, for me, it usually means double spinach).

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Books I’m Reading in 2017, Part 1

2017 Books Part 1

My mom had so many pearls of wisdom for me when I was a kid. Most of the time, I probably rolled my eyes at her when she would repeat one of her classic phrases, but as an adult, some things resonate more clearly. Like this:

Garbage in, garbage out.

Luke even affirms this for us: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

With this in mind, I set a goal to read more books than I watch TV this year. *gasp!*

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How to Transport a Tiered Wedding Cake

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I dearly wish I had taken pictures of the fancy cakes I baked last summer when they were in the car. Then I could have shown you that they did actually survive being in my car. Alas. I must have been too panicked about delivering them in pristine condition despite the scorching heat. You will just have to take my word for it! Instead, I will share a few photos of a smaller, much simpler cake I made for a baby shower.

Transport is the most terrifying part of baking a wedding cake. After spending about 24 hours actively working on these cakes, I had to put them in the back of my car, where I couldn’t see or protect them, and drive them away from my house.

I am a big believer in “practice makes perfect,” so I practiced transpo, as well! I gingerly placed that trial bridal cake in my trunk and drove 20 minutes away, down windy two-lane roads, to see whether the cake would arrive at the bride’s house in one piece. It did! What a relief.

And the Big Day went without a hitch, as well, all cakes delivered as pristine as they started.

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Wedding Cake Should Be Chocolate: The Bridal Cake

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Last summer, I tried on the hat of official wedding cake baker, and I baked for a gorgeous wedding with 200 guests! Today I am going to share with you the ultimate challenge of that adventure: the bridal cake.

After making this cake, I truly understand why wedding cakes are so costly.

The intricate detail, the careful timing, the insane pressure of delivering a perfect masterpiece for the most well photographed day of anyone’s life…

The lovely bride envisioned some very fancy decorations on her cake, with a swirly, lacy look and pearls and pretty much everything that a fairy tale cake would have, minus the ability to actually glow. (The bride would glow enough on her own!)

I was initially so worried about frosting a bridal cake with a brown frosting (can you make a cake look “bridal” when the natural color of the frosting is so dark? and not at all conducive to being dyed a pretty color?), but in the dark, romantic light of the country club where the reception was held, this cake stood tall and lovely, surrounded by pink flowers and twinkle lights, and it was a vision.

You can’t photograph flavor, but I can promise you that this wedding cake, with its dark chocolate crumb and rich espresso buttercream, was utterly delicious.

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Wedding Cake Should Be Chocolate: The Groom’s Cake

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Last summer I made a wedding cake! Or, to be more precise, I made a bridal cake, a groom’s cake, and several sheet cakes for the absolutely gorgeous wedding of some friends of mine! The bride used to babysit my children, and her mother is one of my dearest friends and mentors.

It was such a labor of love. Delicious, chocolatey labor.

And today I am sharing part two of my series about my wedding baking adventure!

Last time I shared with you the ups and downs of my planning stages, including the timing of making all this happen. Today I want to share with you the recipes for the groom’s cake: a two-tiered vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling, chocolate mousse frosting, and a shiny chocolate drizzle, topped with a chocolate fish to honor the groom’s favorite pasttime.

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